Articles Posted in Boating Accident


The Fourth of July is quickly approaching, and fun activities are in store for those in Crystal River and the surrounding areas such as fireworks, boating, swimming, grilling, and more. As the long weekend nears, it is extremely important for people to be aware of the dangers that could arise and how they can potentially be on the hook for any liability when injuries happen. Our Citrus County Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton encourage everyone to prepare themselves for the dangers that could arise this holiday weekend so that everyone can stay safe this Fourth of July.

Blue-Red-White-Fireworks-Independence-Day-Greeting-Fourth-of-July-Facebook-Post-300x251Fireworks Safety in Crystal River

Fireworks can be dangerous, and even deadly. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported fireworks were involved in about 15,600 injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms in 2020. Accidents involving fireworks that happen on your property could mean that you are liable for any mishaps. Do not allow anyone to come on your property and shoot off fireworks or sparklers in an unsafe way as you (the homeowner) could be held accountable for any property damage or injuries, like serious eye injuries, burns, and hearing loss.

Drinking and Driving in Crystal River

The Fourth of July holiday usually goes hand in hand with drinking with friends and family. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that from 2015 to 2019, 1,339 drivers were killed in car accidents over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Of those, 38% of the drivers that were killed were found to be driving drunk.

Remember, that when you choose to drink and get behind the wheel of a car, you can be liable for a crash that you cause. If you plan to consume alcohol over the Fourth of July, then plan a sober ride home. If you host a party where a guest is overserved, then you can be held liable if someone happens to them, so make sure that you take away car keys from someone who is inebriated and that you have alternative transportation planned for guests or a place where they can sleep it off.

Boating Safety in Crystal River

Boating accidents over the Fourth of July holiday weekend increase substantially. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary reports that the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day, account for over one-third of all boating accidents and deaths annually.

If you take people out on your boat this holiday weekend and an accident result from negligence, then you can be held liable. This is why you must take all necessary precautions when heading out on the water:

  • Always wear a life jacket and have enough life jackets that fit all of your guests
  • Never drink and operate a boat
  • Make sure your radio is properly working
  • Make sure your boat is in proper working condition
  • Always be on the lookout for other boats and any debris in the water

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hudson-beach-317555_640-300x200Authorities recovered a Lecanto woman’s body last month after she was thrown from a boat that struck a channel marker in the Homosassa River’s Hell’s Gate.

Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC’s) Division of Law Enforcement brought the 46-year-old woman back to shore at the Riverhaven Marina, according to FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker.

FWC, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and Citrus County Fire Rescue had been searching for the woman since she went overboard at around 4:56 p.m. Sunday, March 22, according to FWC’s preliminary boating crash report.

Rescuers had to suspend their search efforts at nightfall. 

FWC’s report states the woman was boating on an open 20-foot Sea Fox vessel with her 58-year-old husband, along with a 54-year-old woman and a 64-year-old man, both of Homosassa. 

They were returning at 4:30 p.m. to the Homosassa Springs Marina following a day of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, and were approaching Hell’s Gate, a narrow and treacherous area of the Homosassa River’s channel and a popular scene of boating crashes.

The 64-year-old man was at the helm, traveling between 20 and 25 mph, FWC’s report states.

The man rented the boat through his membership with the Freedom Boat Club, which allows its members access to vessels at participating docks.

Both men were keeping watch on the river’s channel to make sure they stayed within its markers.

The FWC’s report indicates at the last moment one of the men realized they were approaching Hell’s Gate on the wrong side of the channel. The driver attempted to correct his route but the vessel’s starboard side struck channel marker 58A, ejecting the woman into the water. None of the vessel’s other occupants were injured.

The woman’s husband jumped into the water to rescue her, and the other man threw a cushion to help keep them afloat, but the woman went underwater and did not resurface, FWC’s report states.

FWC officers found the woman’s body just west of the crash scene. Authorities don’t believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Countless numbers of boaters take advantage of the land of Seven Rivers, also known as Citrus County. Residents and visitors alike can enjoy the Gulf of Mexico, Kings Bay, several lakes, the many natural springs, and of course the rivers. Unfortunately, boating accidents occur quite often on these waterways. Sometimes, these accidents cannot be helped, and other times these boating accidents are the direct result of a driver’s negligence or a defect in the boat or its equipment.

The U.S. Coast Guard data shows that the most common causes of boating accidents include:

  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Excessive speed
  • Failure to ventilate the boat or equipment
  • Failing to properly observe other boaters or improper lookout
  • On-board navigation lights that do not work properly
  • Inattentive boat operators
  • Inexperience boat operators
  • Restricted vision
  • Infraction of the rules of the “road,” including right-of-way rules
  • Sharp turns
  • Starting the boat in gear
  • Improperly anchoring the boat
  • Loading the boat incorrectly by distributing weight improperly or overloading the boat
  • Equipment failure
  • Hull failure
  • Machinery failure
  • Overly congested waterways
  • Dangerous waters, such as waves or wakes
  • Inclement weather
  • Missing or insufficient navigation aids
  • Fires due to spilled fuel or vapors igniting

There are many boat accidents that are the result of a combination of these factors. Whatever the cause, boat crashes can result in significant injuries and even death to those on board. 

Boat accidents are usually complicated matters. Insurance companies and the other parties involved may challenge your every move in these cases. Our Citrus County Boating Accident Lawyers at Whittel & Melton want to help you get the financial recovery you deserve after a boat accident leaves you injured or took a loved one from you. We’re here to help you assert your rights and recover for the following injuries: 

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A 9-year-old Ocala boy was killed in a boat crash in Crystal River recently, according to wildlife officials.

The boy’s family was on a fishing trip at Crystal River Preserve State Park in Citrus County when the recreational open bay boat that his father was driving hit a channel marker.

The boy, who was wearing a life vest, was thrown from the boat, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said.

He was taken to Bayfront Health Seven Rivers hospital in Crystal River, then flown to All Children’s hospital, where he died.

The crash is under investigation, FWC said.

Boating accidents in Florida are not uncommon. In fact, the state of Florida has over one million registered boats. With that many peope on the waterways, it is no surprise that Florida has the highest number of boating fatalities, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Many boating accidents involve collisions with docks, other boats, bridges, barges, or channel markers. Because boats have no brakes and the waterways have no stop signs or traffic lights to guide boaters, boating safety knowledge and common sense are a must for all boat operators. Just one simple mistake can result in serious injuries, or even death.

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A Citrus County teenager drowned last week while diving with friends off the Hernando County coast.

According to investigators, the teen and his friends were about 17 miles off the coast when he dove in the water and never came back up for air.

P1160879His friends were able to locate him quickly and performed CPR, but it was too late. The teen was pronounced dead a short time later at Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center.

According to officials, autopsy results are pending, but foul play is not suspected.

Diving and drowning accidents occur every year in Florida communities. According to a US Coast Guard study, more than 4,500 boating accidents occur each year. In 2012, nearly 20 percent of these accidents resulted in fatalities. Drowning is in fact a leading cause of death from boating accidents in the open water, and diving only increases these risks. If you or someone you love has suffered from a diving, near-drowning or drowning accident, you should seek legal help immediately so that you can understand what steps need to be taken to protect your rights.

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It is officially boating season and this week is National Safe Boating Week. What better way to kick off the start of boating season then to spend some time floating on Citrus County’s amazing waterways.

To help you and your family get in the mood for some H20 fun, check out these safety tips designed for preventing boating injuries:

  1. Never drink and boat! Drinking while boating can significantly increase the odds that you’ll be injured. In fact, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, boating under the influence increases the odds of a boating fatality by 34 percent. Also, it is against the law.
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